City of Bones Review

Photo from
Photo from

Macy Sliman, Staff Writer

   Similar to most other forms of entertainment, books have taken a different direction than they have in the past. As it would seem, the urban fantasy genre of reading material has all but taken off. For those of you who do not know, urban fantasy is a sub-genre that is more defined by place and time. It is set in a contemporary time but with supernatural aspects–think Twilight or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. These are some of the more popular ones that non-readers might be familiar with. Those who are familiar, either with books in general or the genre specifically, have heard of others that are popular as well, like City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

   City of Bones takes place in a present time big city. The focus of the story is on the main character, Clary Frey. In the beginning, Clary is just an average teen until she starts noticing things she is not supposed to, for instance a group of teens covered in strange markings killing another teen with blue hair. Only the blue-haired teen is not actually a teen but a demon in disguise, and the other killer teens are actually three Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to protecting humans from demons and other Downworlders, such as werewolves, vampires, warlocks and other fairy tale creatures. As Clary is pulled into the world of the Shadowhunters, she becomes more aware that the world around her is actually full of demons in disguise and Shadowhunters who hunt and kill them. Within twenty-four hours, Clary has more questions than answers. Like why an evil Shadowhunter gone rogue has taken her mother, why there are gaps in her memory and why she can see this whole other world all of a sudden that normal humans cannot see.

   Character development in the story is significant. Clary discovers quite a bit about herself over the course of the plot and develops accordingly. She gains more courage and self-assurance as she is placed in more perilous situations. In the beginning of the book, she is more of the damsel in distress type, but as the story progresses, she becomes more independent and able to defend herself, if not a little. This process is slow but evident.

   Cassandra Clare writes City of Bones in third person, mostly entirely from the perspective of Clary. While the book is excellently written, my criticism would be the danger that normally comes from writing in third person, which is over detailing. As the story progresses, the reader should be able to get into the rhythm of the book. However, there were times when the details were overwhelming and jarred the reader from the story. Also, Clary is a sixteen-year-old girl. However, the story was written less like the thoughts of a teen girl and more like the mental process of an adult.

   Most of the conflict in the book is caused by the rogue Shadowhunter by the name of Valentine who has, basically, the same political views as Hitler, just focused on the Downworlders. His ploys to exterminate all Downworlders are the focus of the main characters in the story, while there is also the sub-focus of figuring out what and who Clary actually is and how to rescue her mother. This being the case, the plot is fairly well done. There are twists and turns that the reader does not expect that make it an oddly interesting and imaginative read.